Avigdor Lieberman goes all the way to crazy and then added a few kilometers some with this beauty:

It’s a shame that the Swedish Foreign Ministry fails to intervene in a case of blood libels against Jews…This is reminiscent of Sweden’s stand during World War II, when [it] had failed to intervene as well.

One might find Swedish neutrality over the organ stealing article offensive and with that they had not sold iron to the Nazis while staying neutral during the war. Still, the Swedes, Muffti might remind you, accepted and protected nearly all of the Danish jews and many Norwegian Jews during that same war (not including the famous individual heroism of Swede Raoul Wallenberg).

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grandmuffti

64 Comments

  • Sweden’s as responsible for the daft newspaper piece as Denmark was for the anti-Muslim cartoon.

    • I’m with you there. A stupid article in a relatively obscure paper by a writer with a known agenda is best ignored. Thanks to the actions of my darling government, many more people have read this bullshit. And the noise on twitter is up. Israel and the IDF as organ harvesters has become an active meme because of the Israeli government lavishing undue attention on this knob. We’re taking a page from the play book of those who oppose freedom and it is a bone headed move.

  • When is the newspaper and the “reporter” going to be slapped with a multi-gazillion dollar libel suit?

    Time’s a-wastin’.

  • Um, Israel isn’t threatening Europe with violence because of this article. Also, cartoons about Mohammed are not the same as accusations about the well-armed colonizer and war criminal stealing the body parts of the oppressed victim.

    Forgetting Lieberman’s unfortunate mention of the Holocaust, Israel is right to hold the Swedes’ feet to the fire. There has long been a feeling that the EU countries are playing this conflict with an unfair bias towards Israel. The Netanyahu government is now making it an expensive proposition for European governments to take sides unfairly. It’s part of the same attitude this government is showing towards hostile NGOs like HRW.

    It’s important to also recognize that they are doing it when it comes to dishonest attacks on Israel’s actions supposedly directed at the Palestinians. Instead of lying down and taking it, or watching little blogs fighting their fight, they are fighting back and forcing NGOs and governments to pay a price for lies and mistakes.

    It might, just might, force everyone to think twice before publishing.

    By the way, it’s the diplomatic equivalent of fighting what the Muslims have successfully done in Europe by hinting at unrest if they are offended by something. The result the Muslim community has achieved is that almost everybody self-censors themselves. Take a look at what Yale Press, an ocean away, just did to avoid any potential problems. The Israelis can’t threaten unrest like the Muslims, but they can make sure you pay a diplomatic price and have a tough time participating in any part of the back and forth in the Middle East in which they are involved. It’s not much, but it’s better than continuing to accept the abuse.

    Of course, the joke is still on the Israelis who worked so hard to avoid civilian casualties and to try to fight this last war in Gaza with caution and care regarding international law, but continue to get lambasted from every corner.

  • So, Middle– Western governments with freedom of the press are responsible for every rogue abuse of that freedom. You’re joking, right?

    Pressure foreign governments, and then– yoo-hoo!– the media in those countries will practice self-censorship. And you’d be happy with that result.

    Astonishing.

  • FYI, according to this, a case could be made that the libel published by the paper is in contravention of the Swedish constitution and therefore actionable:

    http://fresnozionism.org/2009/08/swedish-pm-ignorant-of-his-own-constitution/

    If so, Israel should sue the paper out of business and ruin the reporter so that he can never work again. It also sounds as though the Swedish government would not be in violation of its own Constitution if it issued a condemnation.

  • I hear that our beloved government is considering postponing a visit by the Swede foreign minister in light of the recent events.

    I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again.
    Send Lieberman over there…

  • The stars have aligned… and I find myself agreeing with middle for another of those rare cases.

    Muffti: Sweden had to have its arm twisted by Niels Bohr and others before they agreed to accept Jewish refugees.

    Morrissey: spurred by this incident, the press here is finally documenting for Israeli readers the extent to which GOVERNMENT money flows from Europe to various anti-Israel NGOs. Including Sweden.

    That is – European governments are sponsoring the campaign of disinformation against Israel. This makes the Swedish government’s refusal to issue a condemnation – which in no way limits free speech – even more telling.

    Hovering over all this is the totally different reaction of Sweden – and all Europe – to the Muhammed cartoons. Funny how there was no breast-beating about “freedom of speech” back then.

    Which brings us to CK: this whole incident shows how dangerous silence is – and how our enemies do not hesitate to fill any vacuum. Just a few years ago no editor in their right mind would have even considered publishing this article – now it is mainstream, and defended by politicians who supposedly still care about public opinion.

    The same thing has caused us – and the world – to accept as normal the constant bombardment of our cities, making our self-defense against such attacks “an issue of aggression”.

    We have to start somewhere, and take a “zero tolerance” approach. Otherwise we are like the proverbial lobsters in a slowly boiling stewpot.

    • It wasn’t mainstream till we stuck out nose in it. The local Jewish community said the response was dumb. We made it an issue and thus unduly elevated the allegations from preposterous to debatable. Taking a page from the Muslims is bad strategy bc we don’t have massive throngs of angry supporters who will kill. So yeah. I stand by my position.

  • So, Middle– Western governments with freedom of the press are responsible for every rogue abuse of that freedom. You’re joking, right?

    Pressure foreign governments, and then– yoo-hoo!– the media in those countries will practice self-censorship. And you’d be happy with that result.

    Astonishing.

    Um, Tom, what’s unclear about what I wrote?

    I didn’t write anywhere that Western governments are responsible for every article written somewhere.

    I wrote that it seems to be an Israeli strategy to confront these countries and publications and NGOs about egregious articles and reports. That this will exact at least some “price” for the type of acts that abuse freedom of speech.

    There won’t be a limit on freedom of speech as a consequence, but rather a greater sense of responsibility to what is published because somebody is going to challenge your integrity and somebody is going to take you to task for tacitly consenting to the contents of these articles.

    Who is going to take HRW to task for appointing two anti-Israel activists to lead their Mid-East section where they write biased reports that enjoy the goodwill and simple acceptance of the international media and public? Who is going to take a major newspaper to task for publishing that Israelis are guilty of bestial crimes?

    This is how a government chooses to apply pressure. If the result is that everybody is much more cautious about what they publish, that is a very good result. With unlimited free speech come some grave responsibilities and NGOs and media outlets should not feel free to abuse their responsibility. Also, these are not weak organizations or companies and in situations where it is unclear that an individual or institution can or would be able to take legal steps to challenge them, a public ruckus might just do the trick.

    I know you get it, Tom. This isn’t about restricting free speech, it’s about applying the only minimal leverage you have to make everybody think twice before publishing lies or lies covered up in careful language that uses hints and innuendo to make the same point as the lies. Shouldn’t that be the natural state of all media? Doesn’t this fall in line with the great privilege of having free speech protect a publication, individual, politician or NGO?

  • ck, why be afraid of sticking noses in it? You’re the guy who offers to meet anybody who insults you in person so they can say things to your face. This isn’ very different.

    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1249418683207&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

    According to this JPost article, the editor of the offending Swedish publication admits they have NO evidence for their article.

    No evidence. Yet, they publish an article accusing the IDF of severe crimes. This is a major newspaper and the editor apparently feels that he can publish any libel about the IDF he likes because that day his coffee had too little sugar in it.

    Free speech is great…when practiced responsibly.

  • B-D, that may be true, but it doesn’t negate the fact that but for Sweden (who acted very quickly post-German deportation announcement in Denmark). Besides, if you let your arm be twisted by a theoretical physicist, you couldn’t have been trying to resist to hard to begin with.

  • Ben-David seems to contend that this is somehow official Swedish government activity (if so, the Swedish ambassador to Israel wasn’t told). If that’s the
    case, the analysis changes.

    Middle conflates private persons/organizations with countries and their governments:

    “Israel is right to hold the Swedes’ feet to the fire. There has long been a feeling that the EU countries are playing this conflict with an unfair bias towards Israel. The Netanyahu government is now making it an expensive proposition for European governments to take sides unfairly.”

    We know how Middle would react if the US government intervened with a magazine or newspaper at the behest of Moscow or Beijing or Tehran to keep a critical article from running. You then opt for vagueness, referring to a “public ruckus”, but you want governments to coerce private actors exercising their free-speech rights. Your position is identical to that of the numerous Muslim governments that froze relations with Denmark.

    Lieberman’s response befits someone born in the Soviet Union; his refusal to acknowledge that Western governments don’t dictate what their media say displays a primitive, third world mentality.

    We’ll cut you some slack as tribal loyalties have gotten the better of you, Middle, but your position is unsustainable. Maybe you should adopt the practice of Prof. Aronowitz, my old civil procedure professor, who always carried a small, paperbound copy of the Constitution in his suitcoat pocket. It can come in handy.

  • Well, like I said, the Swedish constitution seems to make it illegal for the press to libel people. So a case can be made that prosecution of the paper would be completely consistent with the Swedish constitution. Our US Constitution is irrelevant here.

  • Well, that’s fine. It’s private conduct, so pursue a private remedy. Maybe the Israeli government would itself habe standing to sue the journalist in Swedish courts. Go to it. There are libel laws here aw well.

    But take care to distinguish between what’s chargeable to a private organization/individual, and to a government or country in general.

    Another instance where this distinction is ignored: the ongoing show trial of foreign writers and academics in Iran.

  • I’m not advocating that the Swedish government limit what the press can or cannot say, even though their constitution seems to indicate that it is illegal for the press to print certain things, which should certainly make it reasonable for the government to issue a condemnation, even if it took no legal action against Anitsemitenbladet, or whatever the name of the paper is.

    I’m advocating that someone sue their pants off and put them out of business.

  • The recognition the case gets in mainland Europe is minimal. Nobody in their right mind cares about the populist paper, and the attempted boycott of Ikea in Israel is just pathetic. What is Ikea supposed to do? Turn the Billi shelf into clubs and Kötbullar into bullets and get all mobster on the author of that article?

    I wish I had seen so much outrage by the Israeli press, public, and government over the synagogue that was torched in Sweden a little while back.

  • “Your position is identical to that of the numerous Muslim governments that froze relations with Denmark.”

    Only if you think Muhammad cartoons are the same as accusing an army and a country that are constantly under attack that they steal their victims’ body parts or that shouting about the insult contained in this article is the same as threatening “unrest” and “potential uncontrolled violence” over those cartoons.

    I don’t think they’re similar at all. I also don’t think the 1.5 billion Muslims and their dozens of armies that fight their wars without too much concern for their opponents care in the same way as the 6 million Jews of Israel with their fear of annihilation and constant efforts to fight fairly even when they are the stronger party.

    The wife of the former ambassador to Sweden – the one who threw the lights into the government funded Palestinian bomber art a couple of years ago, where I felt that he had acted correctly and Tom felt that, you know, free speech prevails and it was bad diplomacy (even when exalting the murder of people??) – wrote an op-ed today telling the story of how her husband’s polite objections to constant insults and unfair attacks on Israel within Swedish society went nowhere, but when local Muslims opposed a certain image appearing in a museum exhibition, somehow their mission was accomplished through the anonymous letter sent to the museum describing “in some detail” what would be done to the curator’s spouse and children.

    In other words, please spare me the non-working comparisons.

    Sweden sponsors a whole bunch of anti-Israel NGOs through its government. Another way to say this is that they are actively involved and actively take steps to comment or have others comment on the Arab-Israeli conflict. In light of this, having them say they condemn this ugly report is not asking for much and I can imagine a scenario where the Washington Post publishes a nasty, lying, unfair, unresourced article about a certain country’s army or leadership and having an Obama or Bush press spokesperson go on the news to distance the US government from the article and, in fact, condemning its unfortunate contents.

    That’s not a form of interference with free speech. That’s merely a statement of opposition to a heinous report. In this case it’s not even that complicated to rebuke because the editor admits THEY HAVE NO EVIDENCE. It was a made up report. A government can’t condemn a made-up report about a heinous crime? Is there not enogh animosity and hatred toward Israel in Sweden precisely because of the onslaught of nasty reports? Here’s a chance to take a principled stand in favor of free but responsible press. It’s a no brainer to do this.

    With respect to the “conflation” you see me making between government and private organizations, you should realize that I don’t need to conflate anything. This government and other EU governments bear reponsibility for many of the ugly reports that come out about Israel through NGOs their funds support. I won’t even get into other things they fund for the Palestinians that have arguably prolonged the conflict, let’s just focus on the NGOs and their reports.

    These are reports that end up quoted in the media and are part of the ongoing build-up of hatred toward Israel throughout the world. If a government can support these types of activities that involve speech of one form or another, then they are taking sides when it comes to expression about Israel. By doing so, just like any other organization or individual, they also accept responsibility for outcomes. If they don’t wish to bear responsibility, they should avoid playing any role in the propaganda war against Israel. It ain’t me “conflating,” it’s them.

  • By the way, since I don’ have a copy of the constitution handy, can you tell me where it says that a government can’t condemn a made-up newspaper article?

    Also, can we stay away from things like “tribal” comments? They hurt my feelings…

  • If only I could kiss that widdle hurt and make it better, Middle….

    The other piece of this is Lieberman’s use of the Holocaust as a ready-at-hand cudgel (where’s that Nazi (analogy) hunter Barney Frank when you need him?). You go from one dirt bag of a journalist to pissing off an entire country. Middle repeats this mistake, writing as if the problem were “Sweden”. Rather like Prince Charles blaming an Enquirer piece on Camilla on the “United States”. This, from the country’s chief diplomat?

  • Hey Tom, you’re welcome to respond to my comments. There are a few more you missed, not to mention the general theme.

    Jus’ sayin’.

    And the country was already pissed off. Look at their polling numbers in the last year or two. But yes, bringing up the Holocaust was a serious error because he is minimizing it by using it as a political bludgeon.

    Blaming Sweden for something it is doing as a country is hard to do without a stage or an audience. But this article, representative of other brutish attacks on Israel by Swedish-funded organizations, created a terrific platform to bring this up. It’s certainly legitimate and you’ll notice I made my case without discussing the Holocaust. And I’ll bet next time a Swede decides to publish some junk about Israel, they’ll either be much more careful or, very likely, their research will be doubted. That’s a fair outcome and the type of situation Israel has been dealing with for many years, so it may be a good thing when it turns the tables.

  • Middle, you’re missing my point. If you want to argue that because Israel is more vulnerable, it gets to err on the side of aggressively attacking a Western country which sponsors free speech, while Muslims who do precisely the same thing vis-a-vis Denmark– now, they’re to be condemned– sorry, I’m not buying it. I know there are more Muslims than Jews, and the Mohammed cartoons were more, what, valid as speech than the Swedish newspaper piece. But these are meaningless factual distinctions next to the main point. And that is, Israel should behave like the mature Western country it purports to be. The government of a free country is not responsible for each and every– or any– asinine thing written or said by its citizens acting in a non-public capacity.

    And how, logically, ethically or otherwise, do we get from daft article to laundry-list of alleged Swedish misdeeds, evil NGOs, brutish dinner guests and the like?

    This may be real, real technical– but could Israeli concerns about, say, NGOs be dealt with separately?

    And since you can’t or won’t take a principled position on this– Israel is tiny and vulnerable and ipso facto gets a pass– ask yourself this: is this a smart way to make friends and influence people around the world? It’s interesting that Lieberman, that product of the days of Soviet power, deploys the familiar Soviet trope of finding nefarious connections and conspiracies everywhere. Surely it is no coincidence that the country that refused to fight the Nazis refuses, etc. etc. A conspiratorial mindset which sees enemies everywhere. All negative data about a country, past and present, is lumped together, and a straight line is drawn through it. The result is a caricature.

    You’d like to switch the subject to– who knew?– perfidious Sweden, but this a gauche, intellectually mediocre performance by a foreign minister who continues to do more harm than good. Send him back to Honduras or wherever.

  • Middle said:

    But yes, bringing up the Holocaust was a serious error because he is minimizing it by using it as a political bludgeon.

    Muffti just wants to point out that that actually was and is the point of the post!

  • Look at my first comment, Muffti, we’ve agreed on this since the beginning.

    Tom, I don’t care about Lieberman. I also don’t believe any of this is happening without Netanyahu’s sign-off. To remind you, Israel attacked HRW very harshly after their second last and last reports. This is simply, I believe, new government policy.

    As for the idea that this “behavior” doesn’t buy Israel friends, all I’ll say is that these articles individually may not convert a person to hate Israel, but collectively they do a great deal of damage. It is not an accident that despite three peace offers of a state to the Palestinians in the last decade, not to mention a painful unilateral exit from Gaza and a suicide-bomb filled war targeting Israeli civilians, the world views Israel in an even more negative light today

    Fighting back may at least stop the drip-drip of bullshit and if it doesn’t, at least it will get people to see Israel’s reaction.

    If you don’t see the difference between Muslims using the threat of violence to control speech and Israel the verbal, non-threatening expression of anger by some ministers and newspapers about an article, I can’t help you. The difference is clear to me. Also, as I’ve repeated now a couple of times, the essence of the offense caused by the publications is different as is its impact on Muslims and Jews.

    But the nut of your argument is that if this is the latest in affronts from Sweden, if there can be any affronts from such a “nice” country, since it’s not coming from the gov’t or an NGO, one should treat it as separate. One should attack NGOs separately, newspaper articles separately and the government only when it merits a response.

    My point was and remains that the government is a sponsor of reports that attack Israel and when it refuses to simply condemn an article such as this, then it is practicing some serious hypocrisy. If they support a position on this conflict, they can say so. If their interest is to be an objective party, they need to remain one. But they haven’t said they’re anything but objective and this DOES place an obligation on them to distance themselves from this article.

    It is all of a piece, even if you would like to separate it because that simplifies dealing with this as a free speech issue. None of this is simple. Today it’s Sweden, tomorrow it’s Britain, the next day it’s France and every day, little by little, the depiction of Israel as the embodiment of all evil grows, and little by little any support it may get from the public in these countries wanes and wanes. You don’t want to put the puzzle together, but it is coming together anyway and the picture is that of an ugly Israel. That’s not a fair picture and if yelling at the Swedish government that they should condemn one small piece of the puzzle gets others to be more cautious, maybe Israel can change the dynamic somewhat. Yes, it’s a long shot but it’s better than sitting quietly as your support erodes to nothing.

    I have no idea why you think I won’t take a principled position on this. It is quite principled to take a newspaper to task for publishing lies without evidence supporting their lies; it is principled to ask a government to condemn the lies without evidence of a major newspaper; and, it is principled to seek that truth and integrity prevail. It is unprincipled to, on the one hand, hide behind “free speech” as a reason for not condemning a vicious lie, especially as you use your other hand to support groups that attack the country that is victimized by the lie.

  • Middle, this is a battle for hearts and minds, right? And if a neutral or favorably-inclined Swede reads about the Israeli reaction (on the heels of the Swedish ambassador’s remarks), he/she may end up writing off this and like Israeli criticisms as unfair and overdrawn– defeating your purpose.

    Anyway, it’s simple. If you can show that this guy’s project was directly paid for by the Swedish government, you’re right. If not, Sweden has as much business apologizing as Obama does when the NYT or WaPost get it wrong about Israel or some other foreign country.

    I don’t think you can readily distance yourself from Lieberman’s invoking the Holocaust, btw. He wasn’t condemning NGOs, he was implying Sweden was complicit in the murder of millions of Jews. You’re tarting up his comments to suit your own agenda.

  • Of course I can distance myself from Lieberman. What a strange assertion.

    I didn’t realize I had an agenda until you mentioned it, but I’ll stick to this one: “I have no idea why you think I won’t take a principled position on this. It is quite principled to take a newspaper to task for publishing lies without evidence supporting their lies; it is principled to ask a government to condemn the lies without evidence of a major newspaper; and, it is principled to seek that truth and integrity prevail.”

    • Many of the Mohammed cartoons bore factually incorrect content, yet people cried for their right to “free speech” as the basic reason of publishing them. My point-of-view is that deliberate lies shouldn’t be published, and if they do get published, the punishment should be severe no matter who the victims of those lies are.

  • Many of the Mohammed cartoons bore factually incorrect content.

    Um, they were, like, cartoons. A cartoon has no duty o be “factually correct”, whatever that means. By its nature a cartoon is an editorial comment, an opinion. Drawing a cartoon of Mohammed PBNUH with a bomb in his turban is a statement by the artist that he thinks Mohammed PBNUH, and, by extension, the religion he invented has a tendency to be violent. (This is, actually, factually correct, and it is fairly easy to prove that the violence Muslims commit, especially against non-Muslims, is required of them by their religion.)

    A newspaper is supposed to print things that are true and can be proven to be true. The Op Ed page is where opinion is printed. The articles themselves are supposed to be fact. If Antisemitenbladet had printed an editorial cartoon asserting the Israelis were ghouls trading in organs stolen from the bodies of their victims it would have been infuriating, but it would obviously have been opinion, for which no evidence is necessary.

    But when the assertion is made in a newspaper article as news, the paper has a duty to back up its assertions with facts. The reporter has admitted that he has no facts to back up his assertions. That’s libel, and someone should sue him, and the paper that printed his lies, for every kronor they’re worth.

  • Cartoons (they were supposed to be caricatures, a literary category of non-fiction) may be satirical, but a lie is a lie is a lie. No matter whether it’s directed against people I dislike. And opinions that come without anything to base them on still are lies.
    Reason why Europe’s largest gateway of Jewish intellectuals took a stance against Dan Brown’s ill-informed Catholicism-bashing.

  • You’re completely off-base; a cartoon makes no claim to be “factual”. A news article is assumed to be so.

    But just to play your game for a second, to what “lies” are you referring? And by what standard do you judge a cartoon to be a lie? Something like “This cartoon is a lie. Mohammed could never have had a bomb in his turban; they didn’t have bombs back them and he never wore a turban” or something like that? OK, fine, in that sense you could say that the cartoon is untruthful since it depicts something that couldn’t possibly have happened, but an artist by definition is entitled to poetic license to make a point, which in this case is that he thinks Islam, or certain interpretations of it, advocates terrorism. Are you saying that this is a lie?

    And are you saying that all lies should be allowed to be published or none? And if they shouldn’t be printed, who is the judging panel that must put its stamp of approval on something before it gets published?

    An opinion may be inaccurate, without necessarily being untruthful. For example, I think that piercings and tattoos are ugly. Can anyone “prove” the truth or the untruth of something like that? No.

    Someone who is purported to be reporting news has an obligation to be factual. A cartoonist or artist is under no such obligation.

    • They were called Mohammed cartoons, but were intended to be caricatures as I had made clear above (German media correctly labelled them “Mohammedkarikaturen”). Caricatures as pieces of satirizing non-fiction abide by certain standards cartoons as pieces of fiction need not abide by. Slovenliness in correctly titling the images throughout common media does not justify slovenliness in applying moral standards.

      An opinion on a matter of taste is decidedly different from stating something that is factually wrong. Just because some people love elevating their opinions in their personal view that to them they become fact, committing a travesty in reasoning at that, does not mean the categories should be confused.

      “The Protocols of the Learnt Elders of Zion” clearly are a piece of fiction, but they have been misused and intentionally mispresented as a work of non-fiction. Eventually, they have been made available to scholars again in Germany, but only with extensive, critical commentary.
      In Germany, there are panels that decide on what publications are unconstitutional and / or possibly harmful to minors. It works quite beautifully even though the panelists fulfil a delicate task of gauging interests. I’d say that either no lies should be published, e.g. all newspaper articles must name their sources and not pretend to be super-great-behind-the-scenes investigative journalists or be marked “untrue” until proved “true”. Maybe that would improve the quality of journalism already.

  • Cartoons, caricatures, whatever. Anyway, the whole point of a caricature is to mock, so even better.

    Caricatures as pieces of satirizing non-fiction abide by certain standards cartoons as pieces of fiction need not abide by.

    There are laws in Germany that define what a caricature can and cannot say or depict? If so, Holy Moley o_O. Or are these “standards” just some sort of common understanding with no legal force?

    Anyway, what “lies” did the Mohammed PBNUH cartoons/caricatures contain? You still haven’t made this clear.

  • It’s good to get froylein’s European perspective, which is very different from the near-absolutist free-speech stance of American law. The First Amendment, fortunately, relieves us of the duty to weigh the relative ‘truthiness’ of an anti-Muslim cartoon versus a specious, anti-Israeli article.

    Yet, while many Americans stoutly defend free speech, what they really think is, ‘I’m all for free speech, but…’ But adult porn should be banned. But a fringe political group should be kept from the public square. But ethnic or racial or religious stereotypes should be suppressed.

    This is Lieberman/Middle, who want crude state power brought to bear against the press. If Eric Holder gave a press conference criticizing the NY Times for publishing an article critical of Russia after the Russian government protested, Middle would no doubt be appalled. Who would want the US bullying, say, the Iraqi government to keep anti-US articles out of the Baghdad press?

    Yet, when it comes to Israel– when that ox is being gored– the free-speech commitment is abandoned with alacrity.

    Not only is it futile to compare a cartoon to a purported news story: it sets us a down a slippery slope from which, fortunately, our Constitution and courts have protected us.

  • There aren’t laws in Germany stating what caricatures in particular can (not) depict but the basic understanding that nothing unconstitutional or harmful to viewing / reading minors should be made publicly available and under what conditions it’s made available to scholars / researchers (this also includes the works by de Sade for instance).

    A little learning about the history and theology of Islam helps to understand which of the caricatures in question contained lies and which ones actually were satirical.

    I’d like to state again that I’d have loved to see as much of a public outcry when a synagogue in Sweden was torched not too long ago.

  • I’m a little confused here, Tom.

    It may be, as you say, futile to compare a cartoon (sorry, caricature) to a purported news story, but froylein seems to be doing exactly that. She seems to be saying that printing obvious lies about Israel is no different from voicing one’s opinion of Islam through caricature/satire/parody. A “news” reporter, who admits he has no evidence whatsoever, claims the IDF murders Arabs to steal their organs. That is, actual people are committing actual crimes with actual victims. An artist mocks Mohammed PBNUH by drawing a caricature/cartoon. Same thing, right?

    Well, actually, no. One claims to be fact, the other is just someone’s opinion. Regardless of whether one believes there should or should not be laws governing this sort of thing, I don’t see how the two can be compared. A person’s opinion about something cannot, by definition, be a “lie”. It’s just an opinion.

    I still don’t get her point; it seems to be that if we object to an obvious anti-Semite telling obvious lies about Israel (lies being actual things that are actually untrue) we should also object to people expressing negative opinions about Islam or Catholicism (or insert sacred cow of choice here). If this is indeed what she is saying, it strikes me as utter nonsense.

    I agree that government should not be able to suppress speech. But there are always the courts. I still think suing the paper and the “reporter” should be actively pursued.

  • You’re the supposed religion expert froylein. Tell us ignorant peasants what lies you’re talking about.

    • I’m saying that you should object to obvious lies; caricatures must be based on facts to be caricatures. To find out how many of them were just blatant lies, just do a little reading. It can’t hurt to educate oneself.

  • No, sorry, froylein; you said that the caricatures contain “lies”. You have made the accusation, now prove it. If you’re too lazy to back up your assertions, just say so.

  • Tom continues with the lame attempts to draw a reaction.

    This is Lieberman/Middle, who want crude state power brought to bear against the press.

    Surely you can back that claim by quoting me. Good luck.

  • Yes, froylein, lazy. You have accused the author/s of the caricatures of lying about Islam. When someone says someone is lying, it is incumbent upon them to prove it. You have made the accusation and just walked off.

    Lazy, cowardly, and arrogant to boot. But I’ve come to expect this from you.

    My guess is that you know what you call a “lie” is probably just a difference of opinion, and, when confronted with an opposing opinion, would probably go on to argue from authority saying that since you are a professor your opinion has real meaning while the opinion of a member of the unwashed masses doesn’t mean anything.

    Give me an example of a “lie” that these caricatures contain. If you do not, I will assume that you cannot.

    • I’ve come to expect from you that whenever I cite quality sources you either declare them irrelevant as they’re not just some weblinks, or to have a non-religious agenda if they’re weblinks, and if I even go out of my way to try to find sources where quality reading material that is out of print is still available, you don’t go about and buy it.

      You’re clearly not interested in learning / reading / hearing anything that differs from your pre-established views, and my time is too precious for that.

  • Well, Middle, here’s an example of special pleading in which you’d have Israel adopt a non-violent version of the Muslim playbook. Note, as a hoped-for result, suppressing a country’s point of view on Mideast issues”

    “By the way, it’s the diplomatic equivalent of fighting what the Muslims have successfully done in Europe by hinting at unrest if they are offended by something. The result the Muslim community has achieved is that almost everybody self-censors themselves. Take a look at what Yale Press, an ocean away, just did to avoid any potential problems. The Israelis can’t threaten unrest like the Muslims, but they can make sure you pay a diplomatic price and have a tough time participating in any part of the back and forth in the Middle East in which they are involved. It’s not much, but it’s better than continuing to accept the abuse.”

  • Middle, I never said the US government never took after the press– to the contrary, that was what the Pentagon Papers case was about (see text cited in my comment elsewhere). More recently, Rumsfeld tried to keep the Abu Gharib photos out of the news. You sense a ‘gotcha’ moment, but no such luck, my friend.

  • Non-violent and non everything else other than loud.

    And the idea is not to suppress but to demand and hopefully receive fair treatment.

    I know you can tell the difference.

    I also assume you realize there is a significant difference between non-violence and violence, and there is as well between an oblique threat of violence and no threat of violence at all.

    Come on, Tom, in your defense of “free speech” you have come to unfairly attack me, not to mention Israel, of things that are far beyond what Israel is doing or what I’ve stated.

  • No Tom, this is what you wrote,

    Yet, while many Americans stoutly defend free speech, what they really think is, ‘I’m all for free speech, but…’ But adult porn should be banned. But a fringe political group should be kept from the public square. But ethnic or racial or religious stereotypes should be suppressed.

    This is Lieberman/Middle 1, who want crude state power brought to bear against the press 2. If Eric Holder gave a press conference criticizing the NY Times for publishing an article critical of Russia after the Russian government protested, Middle would no doubt be appalled.3 Who would want the US bullying, say, the Iraqi government to keep anti-US articles out of the Baghdad press?

    Yet, when it comes to Israel– when that ox is being gored– the free-speech commitment is abandoned with alacrity.4

    I’ve numbered your false assertions (notice my politeness) to help you out.

  • Well… this is turning into a readership-killer, isn’t it?

    (3) construes Middle’s intentions in the light most favorable to him. I apologize if I credit you with excessive fondness for the First Amendment. (1), (2) – see passage quoted supra. You appear to want to keep the Swedes out of Mideast discourse tout court. (4)- I can do no better than cite your apparent admiration of successful Muslim pressure on the Europeans. You seem fine with Lieberman (minus the Holocaust reference) and the Muslims (minus the violence).

    I hope this helps. NB, I’m going to start billing you for this….

  • Froylein, I’ve read the stuff you’ve provided and what you cite as fact is often simply a matter of interpretation. I just take issue with your “facts”, since they are very often matters of opinion. I assume the same is true here.

    Go ahead and give me a link citing what you call lies in the Mohammed PBNUH caricatures. I will read it and get back to you. Of course, you can be assured that if you give me a link to some Muslim “expert” who says that it is a lie to depict Mohammed PBNUH, and, by extension, Islam as advocating jihad against non-Muslims, I will just laugh in your face, since it is so obviously untrue.

    If your time is too valuable to be taken up with defending your positions and opinions, then don’t bother to bring them. Stick with your pictures of food.

  • Know what, Ephraim? I think she’s in bed by now. Making her probably the sanest participant in this discussion.

  • 3 is not what you said earlier and does not reflect what I said either. You now have evidence that US governments condemn the press. You compare these criticisms to Watergate, but like other parts of your argument, instead of a pragmatic perspective, you are taking things to an extreme. Is Obama trying to stifle the press, or is he making a logical criticism of their coverage?

    1 and 2 are total exaggerations on your part. They twist what I haven’t written into something that hasn’t been said and they twist what I have written into something I haven’t said. I didn’t even remotely imply it. For example, there is NO admiration for what the Muslims have done regarding speech in Europe. There is disgust and the acknowledgment that what they did works. that you see “admiration” here speaks more about you than about me. I clearly speak about a non-violent approach by diplomats. That you conflate the two is about as much of a play on what I’ve said as comparing me to Lieberman.

    As for 4, nowhere did I say free speech anywhere should be stifled. Surely you understand that condemnation of a false article is a good thing and does not stifle free speech, it just forces the editor and his reporters TO RESEARCH and CHECK before they publish.

  • Tom, who harbors a secret wish to publish supermarket tabloids, would like newspapers to publish unresearched lies without any consequences and especially disapproves of presidents noting the falsehoods in these articles.

  • How did I do, Tom? I realize it’s not as harsh as being compared to Lieberman, but it’s the tack you’ve taken in this discussion.

  • Middle, I gotta buy breakfast cereal out at the store, then listen to the new Robert Glasper album (Double Booked, highly recommended), but two quick, important points:

    (1) It’s obnoxious when the press screws up. It’s not the government’s business to police such screw-ups.

    (2) Under NYT v. Sullivan, private and even public figures can sue the media for libel. It’s very difficult, but there is a remedy.

    (3) Politicians have beaten up on the press since forever. However, we all must be alert to chilling effects on press freedom. The line isn’t easy to draw.

    (4) The law I cited was the Pentagon Papere case, not US v. Nixon.

    (5) Obama better not start criticizing our press at the behest of foreign nations. I can’t imagine anyone approving such a burden on press freedom.

    Middle, look into the history of the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, a primer on all of these issues.

  • But your sixth point is precisely the problem here. This discussion has never been about making laws that influence media. This discussion has been about a demand from a properly aggrieved country that the government of a country where an important media publication wrote a malicious and libelous article with not a shred of evidence, CONDEMN the article.

    No laws here, merely a strongly worded demand that the government state something negative about the article. In other words, that they SPEAK THE TRUTH about this article. Your position has been that it doesn’t matter that this is the truth or that this would be fair, but rather that the government should not be involved at all. Your reasoning (when you’re not comparing me to Lieberman) involves laws such as the Alien and Sedition Acts. Come on, we’re talking about making a statement to the press condemning a bullshit article and you’re bringing up points that are entirely unrelated.

    By the way, when you say that suing the media for libel is very difficult, aren’t you minimizing? It’s damn near impossible, and you had better be wealthy to even consider the possibility. Also, do you not then open the door to exploring the exact bullshit you are complaining about? Why should a publication be permitted to publish unsourced lies and then put the onus on the victim to prove or disprove his innocence? That eliminates any fair outcome of any very expensive libel case undertaken by any party who is unfairly harmed by the media.

    So tell us, Tom, how does one prevent the media from publishing lies?

  • u seen this, TM?

    http://haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1109614.html
    Lena Posner, president of the Official Council of Jewish Communities in Sweden, said Sunday that Israel’s demand that Sweden officially condemn the article that accused Israel Defense Forces of harvesting Palestinian organs “had blown the issue completely out of proportion.

    “No one even noticed the article – which is, incidentally, anti-Semitic and absolutely untruthful – when it was buried in the last pages of Aftonbladet,” Posner explained. “But the Israeli response pushed the journalist who wrote it, Daniel Bostrom, to the front of the stage and into the heart of the Swedish mainstream.”

    “What’s even worse is that by making the preposterous demand for a government condemnation, the debate has changed from anti-Semitism to freedom of speech in Sweden: Instead of concentrating on debunking the story, they have made it a freedom of speech issue. The government is not going to condemn the article – freedom of speech here is sacrosanct,” added Posner, who said she could see how the Swedish mainstream media, which at first attacked the tabloid for printing the piece, were now supporting it, based on the principle of preserving the freedom of speech.

  • Yes, xisnotx, I’ve seen it. As you can tell, I don’t think the Israeli government cares much. It seems they are going after public attackers of Israel with strong public condemnations of their own. In this case, it doesn’t matter that the article was not a front page article because it was picked up and reported by Israeli media. The minute that happened, this story became big enough for a reaction. Also, the article criticizes an organ of the government, the IDF, and does it in a particularly sensitive time considering the numerous attacks and sources of attack against “Cast Lead.” Would Israel have reacted like this if HRW wasn’t coming at it with their weekly fairy tale? Maybe not.

  • xisnotx, now I know how Custer would’ve felt if he’d been relieved at Little Big Horn. Thanks a lot.

  • Middle, the answer to your question about policing the medis is that the US, unlike such countries as the UK, with, e.g., its Official Secrets Act, subjects the media to the tort system– i.e., to private causes of action for common-law libel, rather than legislation.

    The leading case here is New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964), in which the court ruled that “constitutional guarantees require . . . a federal rule that prohibits a public official from recovering damages for a defamatory falsehood relating to his official conduct unless he proves that the statement was made with ‘actual malice’ — that is, with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.” 376 U.S. at 280.

    This makes it effectively impossible for most public figures to recover for libel. Justice Brennan’s opinion for the Court is well worth reading; it includes a lengthy review of efforts at media regulation (e.g., the Alien and Sedition Acts). The Court recounts as to the latter:

    “The [Sedition] Act allowed the defendant the defense of truth, and provided that the jury were to be judges both of the law and the facts. Despite these qualifications, the Act was vigorously condemned as unconstitutional in an attack joined in by Jefferson and Madison. In the famous Virginia Resolutions of 1798, the General Assembly of Virginia resolved that it:

    ‘doth particularly protest against the palpable and alarming infractions of the Constitution in the two late cases of the ‘Alien and Sedition Acts,’ passed at the last session of Congress. . . . [The Sedition Act] exercises . . . a power not delegated by the Constitution, but, on the contrary, expressly and positively forbidden by one of the amendments thereto — a power which, more than any other, ought to produce universal alarm because it is leveled against the right of freely examining public characters and measures, and of free communication among the people thereon, which has ever been justly deemed the only effectual guardian of every other right'”, id. at 274.

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